I had the most maddening experience yesterday. Okay, not the most. But it was plenty maddening.
Here's the setup: Sister C and I recently enrolled our little ones in the same music class (my Baby and her Baby Bulldog). We figured it was a stellar idea. We'd convene for a late afternoon date on a rainbow carpet where our little ones could run about dancing, shaking germy maracas, and live it up. And then the best part? We could grab a quick bite for the babes/glass o' wine for the moms at the yummy vegan restaurant right next door right after!
(Yes, it is yummy and vegan.)
Anyway. Yesterday was the first day of said class. And at the last minute, I called Sister C to tell her that Baby was a little under the weather after her uncharacteristic three hour nap. Her 101 temp confirmed the fact that she should not be frolicking with her baby cousin or other anonymous NYC tots. Fine. But I told Sister C that I would still meet her for Part B of our genius plan; at the vegan restaurant.
So. We met up. Got ourselves a table in the back of the mostly-empty restaurant. Sister C placed her hunky (and walking at nine months!) Baby Bulldog into a high chair, scattered some organic cheddar bunnies on his sticky-placemat-deal. We ordered some baby-friendly fare and two glasses of wine. Perfection.
But then. About ten minutes into our quasi-meal, Baby Bulldog got a bit antsy. (Because this is what babies do.) He even let out a little protesting squeal. (Again par for the course in babyland.)
At this point, a fellow patron of the restaurant, a much older man, screamed out, "Helllooooo! Helllloooo! My ears! My ears! Helloooo! Helloooo! My ears! My ears!"
In all honesty, this man made far more of a ruckus than my little nephew. Far more. And the odd thing is that this man wouldn't let up. He shot daggers at me and rolled his eyes. And I looked at him and very politely said, in a hushed tone, "Sir, he is a baby."
And then he rolled his eyes at me and said, "And this is a restaurant."
And then I said, "Sir, it's 5pm."
The deal is that both of us were 100% right. Baby Bulldog is a baby. It was a restaurant. It was also 5pm.
The man did not let it go and it became clear that we were being evicted. From this family-friendly restaurant that shares a wall with a place called Kidville. From this place that offers discounts to diners with Kidville memberships. From this little light-flooded eatery on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a world that might as well be renamed Strollerville. And so. Sister C and I asked for the check and for our food to be packed up and we slipped out. Leaving this old vegan man behind.
(It's worth noting that I am not a bad mom because I left my feverish tyke. Husband was home from his travels and Baby was actually quite happy given her temp. Also worth admitting that I have no idea whether this anonymous curmudgeon is a vegan. And I also have no clue about his medical history. He could have issues with his ears. It's possible. My hunch? He was just a meanie.)
Truth be told, it was not a big deal. These things happen all the time. I know this. And yet, I was angry. Shouldn't we all be able to dine out with our tiny creatures at early hours in scarcely-populated restaurants? Shouldn't everyone - no matter what age or dietary leaning - who walks into a restaurant in broad daylight in a neighborhood overrun by babies and dogs assume the risk of hearing a baby cry for a moment or two? Am I hugely biased because I am a mother of two young girls? Will I feel different about this fifty years from now?
I don't know. I really don't. I do know though that this very thing has happened to me with my own kids in this very same restaurant. But it was with a different guy. A much younger guy. It was many months ago and when, during our meal, Baby's babble gave way to a cry, this guy pierced me with his glare and then put on big soundproof headphones in a huff. To me, it was a bizarre and dramatic response to normal baby behavior. And that was during lunch!
Anyway. It doesn't really matter. There are no universal conclusions to be drawn here. But I am beginning to wonder whether certain people - (vegans? men who frequent vegan restaurants?) - hate babies?
- What do you think?
- Am I so entrenched in my identity as a parent that I cannot see a certain angle of this story?
- Have you ever had a similar experience when dining out?
- Have you ever been on the man's side of things? Have you ever told a parent to quiet his/her kids or leave?
- Do you think particular people (say, those who do not eat dairy or other animal products) are missing a baby-loving chip?
My book hits stores in ONE WEEK, so I must add the below image. Thanks to many of you, Life After Yes is now up to #68,768 in the Amazon rankings. With a few clicky-clicks on your part, maybe it will be at #50,000 by the end of the day? And at #84 by next week? Hey, it's hardly illegal for a (nervous and nauseous) girl to dream, right? :)